FLOWER AR­RANG­ING Why we can all ben­e­fit from learn­ing a new skill.

The prospect of be­ing a be­gin­ner can seem in­tim­i­dat­ing, but learn­ing a new skill from scratch can bring you more con­fi­dence, mo­ti­va­tion and hap­pi­ness, says Marie Parry

In the Moment - - Contents -

Thirty min­utes into my rst oristry class, I had that light­bulb mo­ment – this is what I was sup­posed to be do­ing! I’d signed up for the class a cou­ple of weeks ear­lier, bored with the o ce job I had been do­ing for 15 years, feel­ing drained of energy and won­der­ing what I was do­ing with my life. I had al­ways had this lit­tle dream of be­ing a orist tucked away in the back of my mind, but it seemed such an im­pos­si­bil­ity that I’d never given it se­ri­ous thought. It had been so long since I had learned any­thing new, but when

I saw the ower ar­rang­ing work­shop be­ing ad­ver­tised I jumped at the chance to take part, rel­ish­ing the op­por­tu­nity to es­cape from the rou­tine of my city life for a few days.

“Work­shops help us to learn skills far be­yond the ac­tiv­ity taught,” says Am­ber Lort-Phillips, or­gan­iser of The Big Re­treat Wales. “These range from a sense of com­mu­nity and the con dence that builds from learn­ing some­thing new, to meet­ing new friends and stay­ing in touch with old ones,” she ex­plains. My oristry work­shop did just that. It was in­spir­ing to step out of nor­mal life for a while and to do some­thing more phys­i­cal, cre­ative and con­nected to nature.

It’s so easy to be­come dis­con­nected from the nat­u­ral world when you spend your time sit­ting in front of a com­puter for nine hours a day in a fast-paced, city en­vi­ron­ment. Go­ing on a lit­tle ad­ven­ture to learn some­thing new with other like-minded peo­ple in the beau­ti­ful North Wales coun­try­side was a real tonic.

Fast-for­ward ve years and I’m back in the class­room – but this time around I’m the one teach­ing the work­shop. That rst oristry class even­tu­ally led me on a jour­ney to chang­ing my ca­reer and mov­ing out of the city – but it doesn’t have to be that dras­tic for ev­ery­one!

When I started teach­ing, I hoped that ev­ery­one would leave my classes with a sense of achieve­ment at learn­ing new tech­niques and cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful ower ar­range­ments, but I was re­ally sur­prised at some of the feed­back I re­ceived – peo­ple were get­ting so much more out of the work­shops. Many walked in feel­ing ner­vous and un­con­vinced that they would be able to make the ar­range­ment we would be work­ing on, only to leave feel­ing more con dent, happy and mo­ti­vated.

For some, it was about learn­ing a new skill, for oth­ers it was just an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing for them­selves. Some peo­ple lived alone and came along for the chance to make friends – one lady hadn’t spo­ken to an­other per­son for two days – and I get plenty of mums com­ing along who are des­per­ate for a laugh and some adult con­ver­sa­tion. Paula, a farmer and mum of an en­er­getic tod­dler, burst into tears in her rst class be­cause it was the rst time in a long time that she’d been able to drink a warm cup of tea. She told me that it re­ally put a spring in her step for days af­ter­wards.

“I’ve de­cided to try ower ar­rang­ing be­cause I en­joy look­ing at ow­ers and want to learn a new skill,” Sian ex­plained at her rst work­shop. She’s now a reg­u­lar at­tendee. “It’s be­come so much more than that for me,” she says. “I re­ally en­joy be­ing in my own bub­ble, not be­ing both­ered by any­one. I use it to clear my mind from any­thing else go­ing on in life, and feel so re­laxed af­ter class.”

Sian, who works with dis­en­gaged chil­dren, likes to share her ex­pe­ri­ence with oth­ers too. “I re­cently used my new skills with the chil­dren at my school when I taught them how to make a hand-tied bou­quet – it was so sat­is­fy­ing see­ing them pleased with their cre­ations and I was proud of my­self for be­ing able to show them how to do it.”

Be­ing around ow­ers has its own bene ts. Or­ganic Blooms is a so­cial en­ter­prise based just out­side of Bris­tol, UK, that runs a se­ries of work­shops on grow­ing ow­ers and ower ar­rang­ing. Jo Wright, its founder, strongly be­lieves in the therapeutic e ects of ow­ers and their pos­i­tive im­pact on our well­be­ing. “There’s a lot of re­search on this topic that ex­plores our con­nec­tion to nature as a species,” she ex­plains. It was rst sug­gested by Dar­win that our sur­vival de­pends upon ow­er­ing plants, and in 1993, bi­ol­o­gist and re­searcher Ed­ward Os­borne Wil­son took this one step fur­ther with his bio­philia hy­poth­e­sis, sug­gest­ing that hu­mans ac­tu­ally evolved to be in­trin­si­cally linked to our green en­vi­ron­ment. “As so­ci­ety has changed, we have moved on from our de­pen­dence upon nature,” says Jo, “but we still have an emo­tional re­sponse to a green, nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and it makes us feel a great sense of re­lief, calm and emo­tional restora­tion.”

Emma, a busy fac­tory worker, feels this con­nec­tion with nature: “Walk­ing into a room lled with the fresh scent of ow­ers, know­ing this is my time to im­merse my­self in some­thing I truly love is a feel­ing that’s hard to beat!” She has now been to many work­shops. “I’d most de nitely rec­om­mend it as the per­fect way to take time for your­self, and it’s great to be sur­rounded by like-minded peo­ple who are learn­ing along­side you, too.”

I might be bi­ased, but I think ower ar­rang­ing re­ally is for ev­ery­one. You don’t need ex­pe­ri­ence to come along to a work­shop – just an ap­petite to try some­thing new. But whether you’re cre­at­ing oral ar­range­ments, learn­ing to whit­tle a wooden spoon or try­ing your hand at cal­lig­ra­phy, a work­shop is the per­fect way to watch your skills and well­be­ing grow.

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